Pray and Fast

By: Jim O'Brien 

Hi Friend,

During the past few months the world we live in has changed dramatically. Formerly we were accustomed to living in a country with freedom to worship God, where leaders invoked the Bible, the name of God, and revered the God of the Bible. All those freedoms are now being threatened.

Sociologists declare that we live in a post-Christian world. The Bible is ridiculed, and Christians are accused of using hate speech for advocating a moral lifestyle. As a result, marriage is threatened, the family is undermined, and parental rights are rapidly diminishing. The state is the new parent.

Many churches are closed. There can be severe fines and even jail sentences for attending a funeral, celebrating marriage or just attending church and singing hymns to God.

We are watching American cities being burned and innocent people attacked.

As spiritual people we understand that this is a religious war and we need to use spiritual weapons to combat the enemy. This war may be new to us, but it is not new to the people of God. The Apostle Paul wrote, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12).

After church this past weekend, I reflected on several comments about a spirit of depression that is covering the world. For this reason, I decided to read the Book of Nehemiah, the Prophet who faced depression after the destruction of Jerusalem.

Nehemiah’s solution was to fast and pray. His prayer is recorded for us.

"Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.

"Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’

"They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name" (Nehemiah 1:5-11).

Nehemiah did not simply point the finger at other people. Remember, he said that not only had Israel sinned, but the sins "myself and my father’s family, have committed against you."

Let us, who believe in the God who led Israel out of slavery—the God who founded America—confess our sins before God and believe that He will hear our prayers and protect the "elect" that He has chosen.

When Solomon dedicated the temple to God, he knew man would sin. Solomon prayed to God before all the people, "When [your people] sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to a land far away or near; and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captivity and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong and acted wickedly’; and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their captivity where they were taken, and pray toward the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen and toward the temple I have built for your Name; then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their pleas, and uphold their cause. And forgive your people, who have sinned against you" (2 Chronicles 6:36-39).

God has blessed us with the freest country ever to exist in which to live. We have lived in wealth without threat from foreign enemies. We have been blessed with justice. Therefore, we take wealth and justice as a natural part of life—we take them for granted without considering the urgent need to "cry out to God" as Moses and the Prophets did.

Now these blessings are threatened. Many of us feel that we are becoming captives in our own country. It is time for us to seek God in urgent prayer. Let us do what Solomon said, turn back to God "with all of our heart and soul."

For this reason many of us have agreed to join together in fasting and prayer to seek God. Let us confess our sins, recognize the flaws we have as individuals, as a nation and as a church. Let us commit ourselves to repentance asking God to restore the church, His people, to a place of worship that honors the God who gave us life and blesses His people with liberty.

Perhaps you should set a day aside for Prayer and Fasting and ask God to forgive you of your personal sins and to forgive our nation of our national sins. Thank you for joining with many brethren across the nation as we look to God for our salvation.

Warmest regards to each of you,

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien

Pastor, Church of God Cincinnati

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